Monday, September 30, 2013

Former Councilwoman Vivian Stiver Initially Favored Over Councilman John Eberhardt In 2013 Fairbanks City Mayor's Race, But Eberhardt Pulls It Out

Update October 8th: Fairbanks City Councilman John Eberhart was declared the winner of the October 1st mayoral election on Tuesday October 8th, after a tally of absentee ballots showed Eberhart defeating Vivian Stiver, 1,502 to 1,396. Eberhart had an 84-vote lead at the end of October 1st, but 302 absentee and questioned ballots remained to be counted. Of the remaining votes he took 120 of 237 absentee votes and 42 of 65 questioned ballots. He will be sworn in on October 21st, and will name his own successor on the City Council.

The October 2013 Fairbanks election is at hand, with voting to take place on October 1st. One of the dominant election issues is the race between former City Council Member (2006-12) Vivian Stiver and current City Council Member John Eberhardt to succeed outgoing Fairbanks City Mayor Jerry Cleworth. But while no official polls have been reported, LTEs published since September 28th in the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner indicate that Stiver is emerging as the favorite in the race. While letters by Rynnieva Moss, Pamela Throop, Rilene Ann, Janice Cleworth, and (surprisingly) Wendy Dominque are all supportive of Stiver, only one letter from Karen Parr is supportive of Eberhardt. Eberhardt even wrote his own LTE on September 27th.

Temporary links to official election information sources:

-- Fairbanks North Star Borough Election Page:  Borough candidates and propositions only.
-- City of Fairbanks Election Page: City candidates and propositions only
-- City of North Pole Election Page.
-- Fairbanks North Star Borough School District School Bonds Information

-- Election results available HERE after 8:00 P.M.

According to her News-Miner profile, Stiver almost captured the office in 2007, losing to Terry Strle by a mere 33 votes. Most recently, she served as a legislative assistant to Rep. Tammie Wilson (R-North Pole) until the end of the 2013 session, involved in constituent services such as responding to mail and answering calls, which means she's gained an insider perspective on how the state legislature works. This means Stiver would be more effective in lobbying the legislature to ensure Fairbanks gets its fair share of the pie, but the fact that the Interior Taxpayers Association endorsed her indicates she's not looking for any unnecessary pork. The ITA simply considers Stiver to be more fiscally responsible. Stiver has also earned the endorsements of Mayor Cleworth and former Mayor Steve Thompson.

Stiver, who's used an inhaler since 2004, wants to improve Fairbanks air quality and sees increasing natural gas access as a key to improving air quality in Fairbanks. She wants to do more to help households get ready to switch to natural gas heating when it arrives. Stiver also says she would consider allowing the city to use its power to not fund a labor contract awarded by a third-party arbitrator if the award seemed excessive, but would not exercise this power frivolously. Stiver also cites her prior city council experience as a plus, pointing to the Citizens Review Committees, a series of panels created to audit the efficiency of city departments every seven years, as part of her legacy. And unlike her opponent John Eberhardt, Stiver does not play the diversity card, showing that she values all Fairbanks residents equally and considers them Alaskans first.

Some anklebiters have been nickel-and-dimeing Stiver over a dispute she had with an eight-year-old boy selling hot chocolate at Festival Fairbanks in the Golden Heart Plaza in 2007. The boy was the subject of a constituent complaint. She now says she would have handled it more diplomatically, bumping it up to the mayor. However, a comment to this story provides more details:

takethat2 posted at 2:40 pm on Sat, Sep 28, 2013:

As for the kid that was all blown out of proportion and it isn't even articulated correctly by this article here because then again it is the news miner.

The fact that the father of the kid planted him there in the park and left him there by his self while he (the father) was 2 blocks away most of the time. The complaints were originally called in to FPD by Michelle at Festival FBKS. When no one showed up the 2nd or 3rd call was to Vivian. She then made her call was to FPD to find out why the calls from Michelle were ignored. The father was still not around and I think he didn't come back until he saw the cops there. This is the same kid and father who would go to all the ball fields and set up without permission and sell in-spite of the teams complaints. they sell their goods at the fields to fund raise and the father continued to do this until he ran out of events to crash.

The other thing is the FF board would not allow Michelle to make a statement on this so they crucified Vivian. Even I was appalled at her actions for about an hour until I got my facts strait. Check the FPD calls it is all on record in the police report I am guessing. Actually this kid could have been robbed by any number of people needing to feed their alcohol addiction as they walk into the coffee shops down here and grab the tip jars and run, the kid is lucky. Michelle did the right thing to call and Vivian did the right thing to take a bullet for her constituent. The father should have been arrested for reckless endangerment, or neglect or something for leaving him alone.

A tempest in a teapot -- this incident should not enter into one's voting decision. Another tempest in a teapot is a campaign finance complaint filed by Ron Arnold with the Alaska Public Offices Commission about the use of the Ranch Motel business to collect donations for Vivian Stiver without listing the business as an in-kind contributor on campaign finance paperwork. However, Ranch Motel owner Donna Gilbert immediately stopped accepting donations when she received notice of the complaint, and as a result, APOC decided it was unnecessary to take immediate action on Arnold's complaint.

According to his News-Miner profile, John Eberhardt is strongly opposed to non-funding an arbitration award simply because it is disagreeable. He's even willing to dip into the city's savings account if necessary to pay an arbitrator's award. Although he says we need to keep fiscal responsibly in mind, he also wants to fairly reward and motivate the work force, and considers it a serious mistake to be "telegraphing" the possibility of nonfunding before an election. As a result of this position, unions have flocked to Eberhardt's side, providing him with 27 percent of his campaign funds as of this post. Other donors include several Democratic politicians as well as many of his colleagues at the Tanana Chiefs Conference and the University of Alaska Fairbanks. But Eberhardt disputes accusations that he’s likely to be too generous with city employees at the expense of city taxpayers, explaining that he’s not so much on the side of the unions but on the side of established labor negotiation practices; he actually served as the chief labor negotiator for the city of Fairbanks for 3 1/2 years starting in 1995. On a more positive note, Eberhardt wants to expand the area covered by the Community Service Patrol (CSP), a group that patrols downtown Fairbanks and transports intoxicated people to the jail, hospital or a detox facility. A CSP response costs less than a police response.

Eberhardt also serves an attorney for Tanana Chiefs Conference; one commenter questions whether or not Eberhart is using resources connected to Tanana Chiefs Conference in his campaign, but provides no substantiation. A related concern is that Eberhardt seems to be playing the diversity card, which can be divisive and polarizing. He says he wants to do more to help so-called "under-represented" groups have a stronger voice in government, and has suggested creating a diversity council that would include representatives from racial minorities as well as a representative of Fairbanks youth. He would model it after a similar organization that used to exist in the borough. But if this is so necessary and such a good idea, why does the borough version no longer exist? Possibly because diversity and multiculturalism, which sounds good on paper, usually ends up being anti-White, anti-male, anti-Christian, and anti-straight. Diversity emphasizes group identity over common citizenship, and no community or nation can thrive on that basis.

The mayor's race is not a choice between bad and good, but between good and better. While John Eberhardt clearly cares about the community and wants to do his best, Vivian Stiver appears to be the better choice for the entire community. She better promotes fiscal responsibility and community unity.

Links to other pertinent election stories from the News-Miner:

-- Six vie for North Pole City Council seats
-- Fairbanks school district pushes to replace aging Ryan Middle School
-- Smaller Fairbanks school bond measure would go toward maintenance for five schools
-- Three vie for Fairbanks school board Seat D in Tuesday's vote
-- Meston faces incumbent Kassel for Fairbanks North Star Borough Assembly seat (Kassel also received an Interior Taxpayers association endorsement)
-- Despite differences, Candidates Golub, Morris plan for future (Morris also received an Interior Taxpayers Association endorsement).

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